I first visited Cuba in 1985 as a young British sailor, we made an unscheduled stop at Guantanamo Bay before it became so infamous in today's world.

We were there just for the day so once shore leave was granted we ventured into the American base for a run and then haircut later. They even had a McDonalds on the base which was a novelty at the time for young British sailors.

It was amazing that an American Naval base was there given the history with the American and Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis in the 60' s.
We were not allowed to venture across the border into Cuba and I wondered what sort of country was beyond the razor wire.I said to myself that one day I would go back and visit Cuba to satisfy my curiosity, so in 2013 I made plans to visit.

I booked a Gap or G adventure cycle tour to combined my love of an active trip ,combined with cigars .
Cuba is not the easiest place to get to from Australia ,I went via Dallas Fort Worth and onto Mexico City.You could also fly direct from London or Paris.There are also direct flights from Canada.Just check with your travel agent or one of the many online sites.I found a site called direct flights good for my flight to Havana from Mexico City.

I spent a few days before and after my trip to Cuba in Mexico City, dont be put off by the negative press, it's a great place to visit with stunning architecture and friendly people,you just have to be travel smart.

You do need a six month visitors visa to go to Cuba and I used a company in Australia to organise this online, I then sent them my passport and they did the necessary paperwork with the Cuban embassy in Canberra .
I was told you could organise a visa on your flight or upon arrival in Cuba but had mixed reports about that and decided to organise a visa well in advance of my trip.

I spent a few days in Havana before my cycle tour started and had organised a couple of guide tours and would be happy to put you in contact with some great guides depending on what you would like to do in Cuba.

My plans were to visit the major cigar factories including a private tour of the Cohiba factory and I also wanted to experience Cuba through Ernest Hemingways eyes.This included some of the bars he made famous in Havana and his house, which has been preserved as a national treasure by the Cubans.

You can visit most cigar factories in and around Havana including H Upmann and Partagas.They also have tours of the factories ,just check for times as some of them only operated tours in the mornings.

Many of the buildings in Havana are in various states of repair and are slowly being renovated funds permitting.

The Cuban people are some of the friendliest and welcoming people I have ever come across on my travels.


This guide to Cuban currency will help with the currency to be used.

You cannot exchange money until you get to Cuba, the goods news is the exchange rate should be the same at any money exchange as they are controled by the cuban government.

There are also ATM machines around the country and usually at major hotels,these machines can run out of cash quite quickly and do not accept all cards, so if you get to a machine it is a good idea to take out adequate funds at that time.

1.) The major legal currency for Cuba is the Cuban Convertible Peso, CUC. It's what you exchange your foreign currency for and make all your purchases with in Cuba. Most tourists will only ever deal with CUC. For international exchange purposes 1.00 Cuban Convertible Peso = $1.00 USD Dollar.

2.) The second legal currency in Cuba is the simple and lowly Cuban Peso, CUP, which is rarely used by the vast majority of tourists, but it's still something you should know about.

Outside of a resort or hotel when you're travelling independently it's always handy to have a few Cuban Pesos on you. You get about 24 of them for 1 Convertible Peso.

Street food like sandwiches and pizza, fresh fruit drinks and other small purchases are all incredibly cheap for Cuban Pesos. Once you get a feel for Cuba - and if you speak a little Spanish - there are peso bars and restaurants that can be quite interesting. Movies are cheap too.

Both types of Pesos, CUC and CUP, are legal tender in Cuba and both are completely available to anyone - including foreigners - with no restrictions whatsoever . You can exchange your CUC for CUP at any bank and most non-resort and non-airport Cadecas.

As a first-time visitor to Cuba though or as a resort tourist venturing off the resort for the day you can easily handle ALL your transactions with Convertible Pesos, CUC. Don't worry about CUP.

Lastly, all your tipping at the resort is (of course) in CUC. Never tip in CUP.


Post Your Comments

HTML tags will not work. Your email address will never be displayed.